This IISS Strategic Dossier provides a detailed and objective technical assessment of Iran’s nuclear, chemical and biological programmes, and offers a careful estimate of how long it would take Iran to produce nuclear weapons under different scenarios.

Iran’s pursuit of dual-use technologies that could be used for strategic weapons has raised global concerns and even, in some quarters, consideration of pre-emptive military action. There is compelling evidence that Iran is seeking the capability to produce nuclear weapons should its leaders make this fateful decision. This IISS Strategic Dossier provides a detailed and objective technical assessment of Iran’s nuclear, chemical and biological programmes, and offers a careful estimate of how long it would take Iran to produce nuclear weapons under different scenarios. The Dossier traces the political and technical history of the programmes and the diplomatic efforts to dissuade Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Written and reviewed by internationally recognised experts, the Dossier evaluates the programmes, and the concerns they raise, on the basis of what is known and not known. This publication complements the recent IISS Strategic Dossier Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities: a net assessment. Both books provide dispassionate, fact-rich analysis to fuel the policy debate on how to deal with the growing crisis over Iran.

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  • Chapter One: Political and Diplomatic History of Iran’s Nuclear Programme

    The technical development of Iran’s nuclear capabilities has been closely intertwined with domestic and international political factors, such as changes in Iran’s motivations for the acquisition of nuclear capabilities as well as the willingness of foreign suppliers to provide assistance to Iran. During the late 1960s, Iran obtained basic nuclear research facilities from the United States, and, in return, Tehran signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. The British...
  • Chapter Two: Technical Assessment of Iran’s Nuclear Programme

    Iran’s long-delayed nuclear power plant at Bushehr was finally completed in late summer 2010, with reactor start-up scheduled for 2011. Iran’s nuclear effort is designed to support an independent nuclear-power programme. But the still secretive nature of the programme, its economic inefficiency and inconsistencies, and the substantial evidence that has emerged of weapons-related research raise questions about Iran’s actual purpose. The nation is investing vast resources in a complete nuclear-fuel...
  • Chapter Three: Iran’s Chemical and Biological Programmes

    The Islamic Republic of Iran has stated a clear and consistent policy against chemical and biological weapons. This is a matter both of religious objection to indiscriminate weapons and of its international legal commitments: it is a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Moreover, Iranian officials say that the development of chem­ical and biological weapons would not be in Tehran’s interest because...
  • Conclusions

    Iran’s pursuit of dual-use technologies that could be used for strategic weapons has raised global concerns and even, in some quarters, consideration of pre-emptive military action. There is compelling evidence that Iran is seeking the capability to produce nuclear weapons should its leaders make this fateful decision. This IISS Strategic Dossier provides a detailed and objective technical assessment of Iran’s nuclear, chemical and biological programmes, and offers a careful estimate of...
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Strategic Dossiers

Iran's Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Capabilities: A net assessment

A detailed and objective technical assessment of Iran’s nuclear, chemical and biological programmes, and a careful estimate of how long it would take Iran to produce nuclear weapons under different scenarios.

Strategic Dossier Press

Iran's Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Capabilities

Press releases for the launch of this Strategic Dossier are available in English and Arabic

Press statements for the launch of this Strategic Dossier are also available in English and Arabic

Strategic Dossiers

Harnessing the Institute's technical expertise to present detailed information on the key strategic issues.